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Enhance Your Summer Dining with a Fabulous Tablescape

I, like everyone, am happy to have the dark days of winter behind me, open up the windows, and enjoy those lazy, long days of summer.

One thing I love about summer is eating outside. Whether it’s barbecue night and I’m plating up some garlic rubbed steaks and a big salad or I’ve made some salmon with white wine and herbs on the stove, to me, it just tastes better on the patio. Since I’ve also resolved that I’m going to make the most of the beautiful summer weather by enjoying my new teak table and chairs, to me, focusing on creating a coastal tablescape seems like a great way to start. Relaxing with family and friends outside is such a treat right now – and what better way to enjoy than setting a gorgeous table that’s perfect for summer.

I know some people just break out a case of disposable cups and plates, but I’ve decided to face the truth. That’s just not my style. I admit it - I love setting a beautiful table. I love eating at a beautifully set table. Food just tastes better when you are eating it off beautiful dishes. Confession: even takeout tastes better when you serve it on beautiful dishes (I am not going to say how I know that – I just do).

One thing I really like about tablescapes is that you can switch them around super quickly, so there’s no reason to stick to just one! Also, they really lend themselves to mixing and matching, so you can express your own personality with a little of this and a little of that.

The good news is I’ve got some fabulous new finds and ideas for you that will help you make a beautiful summer tablescape. The even better news is that these pieces are so versatile, you’ll want to use them all year long!

Idea #1: Dreamy Coastal Chic

To me, nothing says summer like a cool, coastal vibe. Soft blues, comfy cottons, seashell patterns - it just makes me feel like I’m in a luxury vacation rental getting ready to relax in the sand. Adding some coastal chic to your home can really give you that great feeling of serenity and gives such a chilled vibe.

I absolutely love these fabulous ceramic pieces from ArteItalica’s Marina collection. ArteItalica makes each of these sculpted ceramics by hand in Italy (as you might have guessed from the name) and the cool, creamy blues and whites make me feel like I’m on the Amalfi coast. The colors of the serving pieces are really beautiful against my teak wood table. I also LOVE the giant lantern – it’s large enough to fit a few big candles, and when it’s on the tabletop with a pillar or two lit up inside, it makes the most amazing centerpiece. And, the napkin rings are such a great finishing touch – they’ve got a great rope holder in the back, and when you put a big cotton napkin inside and set one on each plate, it makes the place settings look super inviting.

Idea #2: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just to hot to cook in the summer, and honestly, I don’t even always feel like eating a rich plate of food on a sunny day. But an elegant cold dish – that’s always a winner! One my favorite trends right now is charcuterie boards. I love serving a big board full of sliced cheeses or artisan deli meats. Pair it with a big salad or a bowl of freshly cut fruit, and you’ve got a delicious, beautiful meal without heating up the kitchen.

I would definitely recommend one of these beautiful slab boards from BeHome. Both the Whale Marble and Acacia Cutting Board and the Black Wood Serving Board are so gorgeous on the table. They are both large enough to display an array of delicacies, but are still easy to carry and bring to the table. Both are easy to clean with food safe finishes. I also love how each can be easily hung on the wall when I’m not using it – I’m such a tableware fanatic that I’m happy any time I don’t have to hunt for more cabinet space.

If you want a drop-dead gorgeous tablescape, pair them with this fabulous gold and white cheese knife set and this elegant cake stand. I’ll tell you a little secret – cake stands are not just for cakes. I know, right? You can use this for anything in the middle of the table to give it a little elevation, and layering things at different heights creates a great visual effect. And look at these pieces together and tell me you don’t think they are just stunning:

I know, right? Definitely a great combination.

I guess you can see I’ve got a little love affair going with gold, black and white, especially when used with natural wood. With a little pop of color from the food you’re serving and some fresh flowers, they will really give your table that unbelievable wow factor.

The finishing touch on any cold spread is of course a great bottle of wine. This whale wine holder from BeHome is also a great way to display it – I just love the curvy whale shape, and the beautiful gold color, and it displays my nice chilled bottle so perfectly. It doesn’t look so big, but it’s actually sized perfectly for either a bottle of wine or champagne.

I’ll tell you a secret about why I’m using so many BeHome items on my table. First, they’re gorgeous – let’s get that right. But what I really like is that they are sourced and made responsibly – their beautifully grained Teak wood is sustainably sourced from protected groves, and their workshops are committed to paying artisans a living wage.

Idea #3: Save Yourself a Trip

Let’s face it – the last thing I want to do is run back and forth to the kitchen. I’d rather be sitting and enjoying my tablescape and my guests!

So, what I really need to complement my tablescape is the perfect serving tray. That perfect tray has got a LOT of boxes it’s gotta check to be good enough for me. It needs to be strong enough to carry all the heavy dishes I’m going to pile on it, but reasonably light enough to carry everything out. Sturdy handles are a must. And a big plus is a raised edge so everything doesn’t go sliding every which way when I’m trying to carry it, open the screen door, and not step on the dog all at the same time (now THAT’S multitasking!)

Oh, and one more thing. It’s gotta be BEAUTIFUL. I didn’t go to all of that trouble setting that gorgeous tablescape and plating a great meal just to bring it out on some ugly, boring tray. You know the one. The one your grandma had for TV dinners that was some blah faux wood color with faded used-to-be-gold edges.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Yes, I’ll admit, people think of trays as a bit plain and boring, but what about THIS?

Or this?

Now I’ve got your attention, right? These are from this amazing designer called Albert L. from Germany. They have this fabulous, smooth as silk Vietnamese lacquer and come in several different colors. Take that, boring trays! They are made of MDF hardwood, which is super sturdy, so you can really load them up, and the surface is easy to wipe clean. I have like a million uses for mine – it’s also great holding a centerpiece on the table, or with candles. It looks soooo beautiful with those golds and whites that you know I love.

I also love their lacquered bamboo bowls – they’re great for salad or fruit and the pop of color is so fabulous.

Well, the beautiful summer evening is calling me, so I’m off to get my own tablescape ready. And here’s a bonus – a quick fresh salsa recipe that makes an easy appetizer. If you’ve got a veggie patch going like I do, it’s perfect way to use some of your blooming abundance.

Quick and Easy Summer Salsa

6 large, ripe tomatoes diced (any type will do – use a variety of colors for a beautiful visual. Make sure they are super fresh for best results)

1 clove garlic, minced

½ fresh red bell pepper, diced

½ vidalia onion, diced

1 jalepeno pepper, diced (or use a hotter or milder pepper depending on your personal taste)

1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all vegetables in the bowl of a food processor. Add olive oil, cumin, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Give a few pulses so that salsa is a bit mashed but still chunky. You don’t want it to be smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For best results, transfer to a metal bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature with fresh guacamole and chips.

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